1. Prepare answers to possible interview questions
Interview preparation is the best way to dispel interview nerves and to improve your chance of being offered the job.
Draw up a list of typical interview questions which challenge every claim you have made on your CV. If it says on your CV that you managed a sales campaign ask yourself, ‘What quantity of sales? How profitable were they? How did I manage? What did I learn?’ Practise your answers.
2. Try using the STAR system
Try using the STAR system for responding to competency based questions such as ‘Describe a situation where a conflict arose in your team. What did you do?’
S First describe the situation you were in
T Describe the task that was involved
A The action that you took (be careful to say I and not we in this situation)
R Explain what the result was
Identify at least two anecdotes to support each of your key strengths. For example, if you are applying for a leadership position you might focus on achieving goals and motivating others. Practise telling the anecdotes out loud to yourself in the much the same way that you would tell a story to a senior colleague at work. Keep the anecdote brief and to the point.
3. Acknowledge a genuine weakness or failure in a project
Acknowledging a genuine weakness is more appealing than trying to disguise difficulties with trite answers. Show how you have learnt from the experience and gained empathy with others.
4. Demonstrate your knowledge of the company
Show you understand the company when answering interview questions such as ‘Why do you want to work for us?’ and ‘What will you be doing in five years time?’Always have questions to ask the interviewer otherwise it may appear that you are not genuinely interested in the job. Use research to strengthen your questions. Ask how your performance will be measured? How will you know if you’re doing well? Ask if there are any aspects of your application where they might need further evidence? This gives you an opportunity to address any of their niggling concerns.
5. Prepare for difficult questions
If you have any weaknesses in your application then assume the interview will ask you about them and be prepared. You may have had a gap in your career or you may be lacking some skills for the job. Nobody expects perfection so it need not reduce your chances of being offered the job. Preparation is key to interview success.